The Atlanta Hawks did just enough Wednesday night in a 104-98 win over the Portland Trail Blazers to get their four-game road trip off to a good start. Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore did most of the heavy lifting, but it was a good overall defensive effort that was the difference.
Portland came into the game shooting 40 percent from three-point range over their last six games. The Hawks focused on running them off the line and held them to just 9 for 31 shooting on Wednesday night. C.J. McCollum and Damien Lillard combined to score 46 of Portland's 98 points but the duo was a combined 3 for 13 from three-point range.
The Hawks are in the lower half of the league in opponent's three-point percentage so it was a step in the right direction for Atlanta's defense. The Hawks have now held each of their opponents to less than 100 points during their current three-game winning streak. The victory improved Atlanta's regular season regular to a season-best nine games over .500 at 26-17.
Paul Millsap continues to put up All-Star numbers
Paul Millsap delivered another All-Star worthy performance posting 23 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 34 minutes of action. It was an incredibly efficient performance from Millsap who finished 7 for 10 from the field, 6 for 7 from the free throw line and made all three of his three-point attempts.
Millsap has scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games for the Hawks. He has scored in double figures in 41 of the 43 games he has appeared in this season.
You won't hear Millsap's name called Thursday night when the starters for the 2016 All-Star game are revealed but you will be hard pressed to find an Eastern Conference power forward that is having a better season.
Bazemore bounces back with big performance
Kent Bazemore scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to help stage an 11-4 run by the Hawks to close out the Blazers. Bazemore knocked down 8 of 15 attempts from the field and 3 of 6 attempts from three-point range. He had been held under double figures in four of Atlanta's last five games and finished with just two points in Monday's win over Orlando.
Bazemore's rise has been the biggest story for the Atlanta Hawks this season. His shooting improvement from the free throw line and three-point range is off the chart and is made more impressive given that he routinely draws the toughest defensive assignment on the team each night.